Active Garratt Locomotives 2021/2

At any time, the number of active Garratt locomotives will be quite small. Trevor Heath tries to keep track of them and this is his assessment of the situation for 2022 (22nd December 2021).


The 2 FCAF Garratt's in Ushuaia are in daily service with record numbers of passengers arriving off cruise ships. No recent progress has been made on the third Garratt. Management states it will be completed in order to allow the other two to rotate into the workshop for overhaul.


ASG G33 at Queenscliff in Victoria is being worked on by a small dedicated group who continue to make solid progress.

AD60 6029 based at Thirlmere was not used in 2020 or 2021. It is now out of ticket with some major maintenance taking place. Any return to service in 2022 will be in support of the program to operate the freshly overhauled Pacific 3801. Additionally, it will only be operated in the Australian winter months as during the Australian summers, due to it being coal fired, there is a line-side fire risk.

NG/G16 129 has been in daily use during December 2021 on the Puffing Billy Railway after modifications to its ashpan and blast pipe arrangement.

G42 also on the Puffing Billy Railway has now been formally with drawn from traffic and placed in the Menzies Creek museum “for a period of at least five years”. NG/G16 127 the last steam locomotive to operate on the Alfred County Railway in South Africa is also currently stored as delivered in 2011 inside the museum awaiting a decision on funding for its rebuild to operate on 2’6” gauge.


Broad gauge N class 811was last recorded in steam on September 22nd 2019. Operating authority now rests with the catering arm of India Railways. There are no plans and no current funding for it to operate.

New Zealand

No work has been done to RR 14A 509 in 2020 or 2021, further work in 2022 is unlikely after the news that the regulators are calling for more inspections. MainLine Steam the owners, have now lost two of their depots in Auckland and Christchurch in addition to their main line operating license. They have been consolidating their locomotive collection in Plimmerton. The GMA/M 4083 however has been moved to Mercer south of Auckland where site clearance has started for a new museum.

RR 15th 398 based with Steam Incorporated at Paekakariki has seen some activity after the decision was made to return it to steam for use only in the yard at their depot.

South Africa

Serious issues not only with the general economy but the indifference of authority to steam preservation in the 21st century are continuing to affect main line and other steam operations all over the country. There is however some progress. Wonder Trains in Pretoria and New Ceres in Cape Town have recently received concessions to operate with at least one more operating tender now in play.

The German tour operator FarRail acquired (paid for) the GMA/M 4135. It is intended to return it to operating condition. However, both the new and old Ceres Railway management have made a claim for ownership of the locomotive which will now be resolved in an upcoming court case.

Paton's Country Railway at Ixopo. The privately owned NG/G16 116 has not operated since completion of its overhaul in March 2017. The NG/G11 52, the boiler is off the cradle waiting for funding for overhaul. One of the 91 class diesels ran away and tipped over. At nearby Creighton under the same management, GMA/M 4126 was the only Cape Gauge Garratt in operating condition in the entire country. It last saw operation in 2020. Creighton also sold passenger cars in 2019 in order to fund the overhaul of GCA Garratt 2621 acquired from Transnet Heritage at Waterval Boven in 2016. However, the longtime manager of both operations has left the country and everything is currently closed down awaiting appointment of a new manager by the local municipality who are the owners / lessor of the infrastructure and equipment. It is not known if a new operating concession from Transnet will need to be applied for.

Sandstone has operated on just three weekends since their last big event in April of 2019, usually with NG/G16 88 and 153. In November 2021, 88 and the newly rebuilt 16A 155 were used. Additionally, Sandstone has also consolidated its Cape Gauge locomotive collection at the estate with GMA/M’s 4079 and 4114 now on display there.

At Humewood Road, Port Elizabeth, the Apple Express organization lost their longtime leader Nerina Skuy to the Covid pandemic in July 2021. They were then evicted from the premises until the tender for the concession to operate the Apple Express is awarded. The overhaul of NG/G16 131 will be a decision for the winners of that open public tender to decide upon.

United Kingdom (England)

The prototype Garratt K1 while now based at the Statfold Barn Railway near Tamworth in central England was returned to the Welsh Highland Railway in August 2021 operating at the Superpower weekend in September and on charters in November. It is expected to remain on the Welsh Highland until May 2022.

United Kingdom (Wales)

At the Welsh Highland Railway NG/G16 87 and 130 were in service all season in 2021. 143 has had two power units overhauled for its use together with a fully overhauled boiler that came from 129 on the Puffing Billy Railway. 143 is expected to be back in service in early 2022. 138 requires a full overhaul and is not expected back in service for several years. 140 remains a source of spare parts. The railway is in need of replacement power unit frames for 87 and may overhaul a later set for the purpose. K1 may be seen again on special occasions. There is a major steam charter planned for November 2022.

At the Vale of Rheidol Railway NG/G13 60 entered service for a charter in November 2021. Plans for its use in 2022 are not known. There is some speculation about it visiting the Welsh Highland Railway for the November 2022 charter where it has been confirmed as “welcome but expensive to move”.


NG/G13 50 remains in operating condition and is used occasionally at Hempstead in Texas.


RR 14A 523 rescued from certain scrapping in Botswana has been operating for Bushtracks in Livingstone in 2021 including on a royal wedding charter. 520 also rescued from Botswana and then 516, stored at the Bulawayo Railway Museum since 1995 are due to follow into operating condition. 512 will be broken up for spare parts (to be used primarily on 516) due to a condemned boiler after 25 years of continuous service in private ownership. No timeline is available however due to the loss of revenue in 2020 and 2021. Bushtracks normally operate on both sides of the border with Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls.


Activity is now limited to very occasional tourist excursions out of Bulawayo using 15A 414 or 14A 519 including on December 22nd 2021. In November 2020, 16A 613 was steam tested following a protracted re-tubing but has not yet been line tested. 15A 395 has also been re-tubed but as of late December 2020 it has not been steam tested and a line test for it will require the change of a driving wheel set to address a broken crank pin. At Hwange, all the steam locomotives have been sold for scrap with just two RR 15th remaining to be cut up as of December 15th 2021.

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